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Jeff Arnold, Founder of WebMD and Sharecare, Talks COVID-19 and the Future of Digital Health
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As the founder of WebMD and, more recently, CEO of Sharecare, Jeff Arnold has been working at the intersection of healthcare information and human behavior since before Google even existed.
With the world in the midst of the most significant public health crisis in modern memory, Arnold joined our CEO Codrin Arsene’s podcast. The wide-ranging discussion covers not only what the current moment could mean for the future of digital health, but also what Sharecare specifically is doing to help individuals and organizations grapple with COVID-19 in the present and prepare themselves for a transition to a post-COVID-19 reality.
Unsurprisingly, Sharecare, an individualized health and wellness platform founded in 2010, has been busy. Their content staff has transformed into a ‘COVID-19 newsroom’ of sorts, creating more than 300 articles focused on unbiased, myth-dispelling information that have generated more than 89 million impressions to date. Their “Flatten the Curve” survey, which helps an individual assess their well-being and appropriate response based on their individual condition and symptoms, has been taken by more than 100,000 individuals.
But Arnold is thinking beyond the current moment.
“Pre-Covid I would spend a lot of time thinking about disease management,” Arnold said. “I think post-Covid what’s going to be sucking up a lot of time is thinking about ‘what’s a COVID-19 readiness package look like.’”
Sharecare has rolled out a broad range of products that lend themselves to helping companies and organizations manage a return to public life while mitigating the risk of triggering another wave of infections. They include:
- AskMD, a robust screener that can geo-locate and triage patients
- An AI chatbot that can be embedded on any website so that people can assess their condition
- A telehealth platform where any doctor can be Sharecare enabled, offering HIPAA-compliant secure video and text free of charge until September 1st
- A tracker for people to monitor their well-being and symptoms since their sheltering in place began
- A robust anxiety platform as the pandemic continues to take a mental health toll as well
With so many more individuals taking an in-depth look at their individual health as a side-effect of the COVID-19 crisis, Arnold believes we could actually be at a pivotal moment in terms of digital health’s capacity to transform healthcare outcomes.
“If there’s a silver lining in COVID-19, the silver lining is digital health is going from Blockbuster to Netflix and this is a watershed moment for people and providers.”
Arnold and Arsene discuss many other fascinating topics on the podcast including:
- The importance of trusted, high-quality, relevant content and its role in helping WebMD and Sharecare establish trust with readers.
- The approach Arnold uses ensure the production of quality content consistently
- How employers can gain actionable insights from health data to keep work environments safe and secure
- What the future holds for the integrated consumer path between informational content and clinical decision making
- Arnold’s predictions on artificial intelligence in healthcare and whether or not it might eventually replace doctors.